Canadiens vs. Islanders game recap: Shea Weber helps Habs run win streak to five
Canadiens improve to 6-0-1 after a strong performance from their top defenceman.
The Montreal Canadiens looked to keep their hot start going when they brought their 5-0-1 record into Barclays Center to face the New York Islanders. With Jaroslav Halak up in the pressbox, Thomas Greiss got the start for New York, squaring off against Al Montoya.
The game started off slowly, with both teams struggling to find their legs and fighting questionable ice conditions in the opening frame. With very few chances between the two teams, they headed to the dressing room with the shots 8-5 in favour of the Islanders, but with relatively even possession numbers.
Michel Therrien activated the blender to start the second period. The coach saw dividends immediately, as the new line combination of Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Paul Byron opened the scoring for the Canadiens. After some nice puck retrieval, Gallagher’s initial shot was stopped by Greiss, with Byron there to bury the rebound.
The goal seemed to be a catalyst for the Habs, who enjoyed a good spell of pressure in the following minutes. Tomas Plekanec, yet to score this season, nearly doubled their lead, but Greiss was able to make a big pad save on the Habs forward. The German goaltender then robbed Gallagher in front, after he was set up on a nice play by Galchenyuk.
The chances continued for the Canadiens midway through the second, with Torrey Mitchell unable to finish off a nice pass from Alexander Radulov on a three-on-one. Greiss then denied Andrew Shaw, who was able to split two Islanders defenders and create a breakaway for himself.
The Habs thoroughly dominated the Islanders for most of the second period, edging the home side in shot attempts 19-8 in the first 10 minutes of the frame, but still only held a 1-0 lead.
As is so often the case in the NHL, when you don’t convert on your chances, the other team is usually able to capitalize. Artturi Lehkonen took a high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone with just under six minutes left in the period. John Tavares was able to score on the ensuing power play, after Alexei Emelin was unable to clear the puck following a Montoya save.
The teams were tied at one goal apiece heading into the third, despite the Habs 51-28 lead in shot attempts after two.
The third period was more of the same, with the Habs coming on strong out of the gate. Nathan Beaulieu had a couple of good chances with seemingly open nets, but was stopped by Greiss one one and had his stick lifted by Johnny Boychuk on another just seconds later. Not long after, Galchenyuk ripped a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Greiss but not the crossbar, and Gallagher was unable to capitalize on the rebound.
At the other end of the ice, Montoya was playing his part in this battle of the backups, as he made two big stops on first Brock Nelson and then John Tavares to preserve the tie.
Montoya’s saves proved to be crucial, as Philip Danault was able to give his team a lead on Montreal’s 67th shot attempt of the game. It was cancelled out less than three minutes later however, after Dennis Seidenberg scored on a point shot through a screen set by Anders Lee.
With 3:50 left in the frame, Nick Leddy took a slashing penalty on Gallagher in front of the net, giving the the Habs their first power play of the game. That set the stage for Shea Weber, who fired a perfect one-timer short side past Greiss.
Weber’s third goal and ninth point of the young season helped the Canadiens improve to 6-0-1, continuing their torrid start to the season.
- Shea Weber came in with high expectations, but I don’t think anybody expected this level of production. Weber finished with a goal and an assist, leading the team with just over 24 minutes of ice time. Yes, Weber does have a lot of miles on him, but the early returns are encouraging.
- It feels really good having a backup goalie that you can trust to win you a game. Al Montoya was stellar once again.
- The Habs face their toughest test so far on Thursday, with Tampa Bay coming to town on the second half of a back-to-back. It’ll be interesting to see how Weber fares against the speedy Lightning./